Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nirvana Goes Reggae! Cobain Classic Gets Video Remix Treatment

I was a huge fan of the mid 80's 12" remix and I've always appreciated the role that producers can play in radically altering the original version of a song. I haunted many a record store back in the day on the hunt for remixes of songs by Arthur Baker (who famously combined elements from two original Kraftwerk recordings, "Trans Europe Express" and "Numbers," which were interpreted by studio musicians for the groundbreaking Afrika Bambaattaa hip hop track "Planet Rock"), John "Jelly Bean" Benitez (who remixed many acts including The English Beat and General Public) among many others. Further, the idea of covering or "versioning" songs is at the very foundations of Jamaican music.

To that end, I'm struck by the Arthur Bakeresque production and multi-media work that Andy Rehfeldt is accomplishing in mixing the video and live vocals of well known artists and syncing and matching them to completely new backing tracks that he records himself. Witness his spot on reggae version of Nirvana performing their classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit."  While there have been better reggae takes on Nirvana (Little Roy's recent release is on regular rotation), Rehfeldt has some other tricks up his sleeve. For me its his ability to fuse the aural and the visual to create something unexpected and new -- in this case its the inclusion of Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers playing the melody on his trumpet from a show in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1993. Watch and listen:

How does he do it? Firts, Rehfeldt composes an original piece of music around the acapella vocal tracks he searches out via Google. Then he arranges each song and records the guitars and bass parts live, later adding other parts (drums, horns) via a midi keyboard. Then he matches the new track to the video and uploads it to YouTube. He's done this quite a bit with other artists and has developed quite a following. Check out Rehfeldt's hard rock/heavy metal take on Bob Marley's "Is This Love".  Again, the beauty lies in his ability to sync everything perfectly so your eyes and ears believe what you are hearing and seeing!

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